Parading Whistler to the world 

Higher Ground event planners aim to throw Olympic-sized performance

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“Right now, it looks like 95 per cent will be from recycled products — the only part that isn’t is some of the fabrics for the costumes,” said Kessner.

“A lot of things have come from the Re-Use-It Centre and recycle bins, and we are looking to the community to help out as well,” he said.

While this is Higher Ground’s first big parade in town, the events planning company is not new to the local performance scene. In the past two years, Higher Ground has been responsible for Artrageous and Whistler’s Street Entertainment.

In fact, Kessner originally designed The Great Whistler Parade as part of Street Entertainment. Unforeseen circumstances at the time prevented the parade coming to life, but Kessner’s determination led to the VANOC contract.

The parade is also being designed to get a high level of community participation.

“What we really need right now is community involvement. We need all elements of involvement — we need businesses to help us, performers to get involved and we are also going to be holding workshops to teach people skills they can use to get involved,” said Kessner.

“I want everyone involved. From tourists, to businesses, to hospitality workers,” he said.

To get the community engaged, Kessner is bringing in performers and artists from outside Whistler to hold free workshops on different skills.

The workshops will include rhythm, costume design, choreography, lantern making and flag and banner making, as well as workshops targeted to elementary school students and high school students.

Kessner estimates the parade will need at least 40 volunteers and he is strongly encouraging everyone to get involved. He also said that anyone with a performance background — actors, dancers and musicians — should get in touch with him.

“And we want everybody to come out and watch this parade and think about what it could be 20 years down the road,” he said, adding with passion that he definitely sees The Great Whistler Parade continuing beyond the Olympics to become an annual spectacle of Whistler’s growing culture.

To get involved as a volunteer for The Great Whistler Parade, contact the Whistler Arts Council at info@whistleratscouncil.com . Performers can also contact Kessner at christian@retreatsandevents.com .

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